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Re: Respect for Upstream Authors and Snippets of Interest

Barak Pearlmutter said on Fri, Sep 26, 2003 at 07:31:14PM -0600,:

 > In a recent message to this list, RMS mentioned that people had stated
 > that Debian would remove all non-modifiable but removable text from
 > Debian packages:

If Debian does not, somebody else  will, and I guess that this is what
RMS wants to prevent.

 > includes a bunch of such snippets, all of which are included---right
 > now---in /usr/share/emacs/21.2/etc/.  All of them are removable: sex.6
 > (which is of questionable taste), GNU, CENSORSHIP (which is dated into
 > such irrelevance that its inclusion is arguably embarrassing),
 > LINUX-GNU (whose first sentence misleadingly reads "The GNU project
 > started 12 years ago"), COOKIES (whose relevance, copyright status,
 > and humor value is unclear), etc.

I became aware  of the concepts of free software,  Debian, the FSF and
the  real meaning  of 'free  as in  freedom' on  doing some  follow up
reading after  coming across other  files in this very  same directory
(while using another distro). According to the consensus on this list,
these files do not deserve to be in Debian, the OS.

But,  do  please  consider  this  situation :-  If  those  files  were
modifiable / removable, and if somebody did, in fact, modify them, and
I (or any other user) had  come across that distro, I would never have
turned to  Debian.  Please consider  this fact while those  packages /
docs are being moved out to non-free.

 > Debian does require the *right* to remove such snippets.

Sure.  Not  only the  snippets, but also  the invariant sections  in a
GFDL'ed doc.  But rights specific to Debian are not DFSG free.

So the rights to modify will  have to be granted to everybody. And one
bad apple in that 'everybody', who would most likely have much money &
marketing power *might* remove the philosophy and political parts, and
create  their  own  distros  bereft   of  the  'free  as  in  freedom'
'pontifications'.  ;)  This problem  cannot  be  wished  away by  dual
licensing these docs under GPL.

On  the other  hand, the  Debian Community  has very  valid  points to
object  to  the  GFDL,  It  will  be  difficult  for  Debian  to  make
concessions specific to copyrights held  by the FSF.  Any body can use
the invariant sections to include unpalatable messages.

RMS has a point when he argues  that it is not sufficient to have free
software.   We  need  to   constantly  remind  everybody  about  those
freedoms. To that end, it is essential to educate users and every body
else about the  freedoms, and utilise every opportunity  to spread the
word.   Paving the  way for  removal of  the  political/ philosophical
messages about  freedom in software of  the kind published  by the FSF
would  be counter  - productive  to the  free software  community (and
therefore, Debian itself) in the long run.

I think  the only way  out would be  to create a separate  section for
GFDl'ed docs with invariant  sections named something like GFDL-doc or
doc-semifree (or whatever - nonfree is harsh and unwarranted term). 

  Mahesh T. Pai, LL.M.,                   
  'NANDINI', S. R. M. Road,               
  Ernakulam, Cochin-682018,               
  Kerala, India.                          

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